Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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What happens when you dare to ask God for the impossible?
Does the brand of faith you live by produce the kinds of results in your lives that we read about in the biblical stories of men and women of faith? Chances are, for most of us including me, not even close. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
I had the privilege of hearing Steve Furtick speak at a conference in Chicago a few years ago, and I love the book he wrote that he spoke about then, “Sun Stand Still”, it really challenge’s us to live our lives with an audacious faith.
This audacious faith that we see in the Bible, the faith that caused Joshua to pray and see the sun stand still in the sky, is the same faith we can claim for ourselves today. This is a call for all of us to begin living the life of audacity God has created and saved us for.
In Joshua 10 12-13
The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel,
Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening:
“Stop, Sun, over Gibeon;
Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.”
And the Sun stopped, the Moon stood stock still
Until he defeated his enemies.
13-14 The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. There’s never been a day like that before or since—God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel.
So what is that, a Faith in God, or the Faith of God to ask for the sun to stand still, to ask God for the impossible?
In Romans 8: 5 – 17 from The Message
5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self, ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
So, who are we in Christ, do we have Faith in God, or the Faith of God? I think that sometimes a faith in God is overcome by our own fear, with an expectation that maybe God won’t do the impossible, so we accept and expect less than what God has planned for us. Or do we have that childlike faith full of expectation and anticipation. Let’s all greet God with a, what’s next Papa? Our God, is the God of the impossible, a God of miracles, a God of signs and wonders, a faithful God, a loving God.
And in John 14: 11- 17 from The Message
11-14 “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing, You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.
The Spirit of Truth
15-17 “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
There are lots of stories in the bible about men and women of amazing faith, some with Faith in God and others with the Faith of God. If we think of Jesus walking on the water, and when Peter is asked to come out of the boat to greet Him, which one had Faith in God, and which one, the Faith of God.
Mathew 14: 22 – 33 22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Then we have David who slayed Goliath with a single stone in a slingshot. Moses and his staff parting the sea for the Israelites to pass, Abraham who was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, or Peter who saw people healed that came under his shadow.
So how does that look for us? What happens when you dare to ask God for the impossible? Do we have faith in God, or the faith of God?
I can think of some great stories of Gods amazing miracles that have affected my life, where we too had dared to ask God for the impossible, if I can share some of these stories with you.
I have only been a Christian for a short 14 years, not a long time in over 60 years. Our whole family, my wife Debbie, daughter Belinda and son Scott were all saved over a 6 month period. We went from worldly people with no faith, to committed Christians and every one of us is now involved in ministry, Scott is a school chaplain, Belinda a pastor at our church and me, well my work at the Salvos is all about ministry. That was the first real miracle in our lives, a family transformed.
When my wife Debbie had a ruptured aneurism exactly ten years ago, the neurosurgeon said that she should have never survived, we had a prayer network around the world praying for her, and she not only survived but now has almost 100% recovery, and here we are ten years later, with a faith that is even stronger today than it was in 2004. Praise God.
Another miracle, or maybe just lucky? I remember driving up the F3 freeway to Gosford one afternoon after work, I wasn’t tired, it was around 6 pm, I was travelling in the fast lane doing around 110 kilometres an hour, there was traffic all around me. Then I woke up, I was in the slow lane, traffic still all around me, and still doing 110! Now how could that happen, maybe God’s protection?
And the miracles continue! I was taking my wife Debbie to the doctors in Liverpool Street on a Saturday, as we parked a fair distance away, I put her in the wheelchair and proceeded towards the doctors and came to the pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights opposite the medical centre. I pressed the button and waited for the lights to turn green so that we could cross the road safely. The lights turned green we started to cross the road, there was a young guy next to me as we crossed together. Then suddenly I had a vision, seeing me and Debbie being hit by a car and we were rolling down the road, I balked just as we got to the median strip, and the young guy next to me stopped at the same time. A car doing around 70, came hurtling through the red light, he missed Debbie in the wheelchair by around 10 centimetres, if I hadn’t stopped we would have been hit. How great is God, he is always protecting you!
I remember when we did outreach for our church on the central coast, we were coming to Kirribilli to spend some time at a social housing estate with around 300 apartments. It was pelting down with rain in the morning, so we were fielding calls and texts, “is it still on, are you going to cancel because of the rain”. The response we gave was, no it is still on, we will pray that the rain stops for the entire time we are there, and oh, by the way, don’t bring your umbrellas! Now this “don’t bring your umbrellas is significant”.
As we drove to Sydney in prayer, the rain continued to bucket down, but we had faith, the rain would stop. As soon as we arrived in a convoy of around 6 cars, the rain stopped! We unloaded our gear, set up the band and the barbeque and proceeded with our worship, gave the message of our amazing God, and prayed for people until around 3 pm. The rain threatened the entire time we were there, but it didn’t rain, not a drop.
We packed up the cars, set off back up the highway and you guessed it, the rain came down and didn’t stop till much later that night. God had faithfully stopped the rain for around 5 hours. Now about the umbrellas, if we pray that it won’t rain, if you have faith, why would you pack umbrellas? If you pack your umbrellas when you pray, is that really trusting in God? Is that faith in God, or the faith of God? Could you imagine Jesus, walking on the water with a life jacket on, just in case he started to sink?
Part of my personal ministry is at Jubilee church on Saturday afternoons where we run healing rooms. Now to see some of the things that happen, the amazing miracles that God performs every Saturday, you would be as amazed as I am. We have seen legs that were different lengths grow out in front of our eyes, we have seen bi polar disappear, we have seen cancer fully healed, scoliosis disappear, the list is endless, and what did Jesus say, a real faith is when you believe without seeing, what about if you see miracles like this, I tell you, that gives you faith beyond your imagination!
Another story to finish about Gods amazing miracles, in January last year we prayed for a good friend let’s call him Jim, who was scheduled for open heart surgery, they had a fully blocked artery. Our prayer was that the surgery was not going to be necessary, that God would completely heal them and the surgery would be cancelled. I met with Jim the day before the scheduled surgery and was told that they had the surgery cancelled because their heart had repaired itself and created its own bypass! All praise to God!
Now that’s not all, the next day on the Tuesday, I met up with the owner of our local restaurant, his name was Roy. I asked him how he was going, he said OK but, I have to go in for open heart surgery on Friday, I have a fully blocked artery. Well, guess what, I said funny you should mention that, I told him about yesterday’s miracle and said, maybe I can pray for your heart, and I expect that God will fully heal you too. I prayed for him and said good bye and asked him to let me know how he got on.
The following Monday, I was walking through the city and there he was walking in front of me in Castlereagh Street. I tapped him on the shoulder and said Roy, how are you? He responded “Peter I was trying to get in touch with you but didn’t have your number. The surgery was cancelled, when I went to my heart specialist before the surgery, he advised me that the artery has healed itself, it has created its own bypass”.
How amazing is our God, all praise and glory to Him.
We need to live a life of expectation, we need to consider if it is to be Faith in God, or the Faith of God, will you dare to ask God for the impossible, you choose, but I suggest you don’t bring your umbrellas.
So if I can finish with some amazing words from Ephesians 3 14.21, The Passion Translation by Brian Simmons, and let these be words that I speak over every one that is reading this message, this is for you, yes YOU!
So when I think of the wisdom of His plan I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that He would pour out over you the unlimited riches of His glory and favour until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with His divine might and explosive power.
Then by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life, providing you with a secure foundation that grows and grows.
Then, as your spiritual strength increases, you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences - the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is His love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement, beyond academic knowledge - this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!
Never doubt Gods mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energises you. Now we offer God all the glorious praise that rises from every church and every generation through Jesus Christ - and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!
Sydney - Australia